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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 1/19/2004

Belichick: I don’t think there is really a whole lot I can add to what I said yesterday after the game. It was a terrific team effort.



BB: I don't think there is really a whole lot I can add to what I said yesterday after the game. It was a terrific team effort. A lot of guys stepped up. All three of our units had big plays and big contributions in the game. Defensively I thought we tried to play good team defense. It wasn't always perfect. We had our moments. Overall, the combination of everybody working together, all the elements of the unit, the force, the inside, the pass rush, the coverage and all of that, we were certainly able to make a few plays there. Adam [Vinatieri] made some big kicks, we moved the ball well and left some points out on the field. It is a good feeling there to beat a good team like Indianapolis and the week before Tennessee. I think we have a lot of work to do on Carolina. We don't have any exposure to them obviously this year. We have a lot of preparation to work on. We haven't even, other than watching them play other teams, watched one play on them. We will have to take a few days here to try to get caught up and familiarize ourselves with what obviously is a very good football team. That is pretty much where we are for today.

Q: Over the next few weeks a lot will be made of the 14-game winning streak. How much do you think about it?

BB: Not much. You know what? We have been looking ahead each week and that is still where we are. We don't reflect back on how many we won or didn't win or anything, just what is the next challenge, what is the next hurdle and how do we get over it. That is what we have been thinking about all year. That is what we will be looking forward to, the Carolina game.

Q: Does any special game or moment during a game stand out during that span?

BB: They were all special. Anytime you win in this league it is special. Obviously playoff games sit a little bit higher than the regular season ones but without the regular season ones there wouldn't be a playoffs so they are all special.

Q: How does this week in between the Super Bowl affect your planning compared to last time?

BB: I think it definitely changes a lot of the preparations just from a timing standpoint. You still end up doing all of the same work it is just timing. I have been in four Super Bowls and two with each – two with one week in between time frames and two with two-week time frames. Again, in all of those cases, Buffalo, St. Louis, Denver and Green Bay who we played in the preseason, in all of those cases we had played the team earlier in the season with Green Bay being a preseason game. In this case, we are really starting new on Carolina. I think the most important thing from a coaching standpoint is to make sure that we know what we are doing before we give it to the players. So we are going to make sure that we take enough time to thoroughly evaluate the Panthers and try to come up with a competitive game plan against what they are doing. Last time as an example, there was so much urgency because of the shortness of the week and playing one day and flying down to New Orleans the next day and all of that, it totally changed the scope of time that we had to work with. Now we have more time, we will just try to allocate it and use it wisely.

Q: When you look at the two weeks, do you look at this week as a bye week or do you want to get on the plane saying, 'Okay, we are pretty close to being ready to play?'

BB: No. I would say somewhere in between there. It is certainly more than a bye week but I don't think when we get on the plane we are going to be ready to play either. I think there will still be more work to do. There will be things that we will leave to cover in the second week of preparations so that we don't do it all at once but at the same time we don't want to leave it all to the end either. So we will just try to manage it all the way through. But I think somewhere in between there would be my answer.

Q: When do you typically give the team the game plan when you have the two weeks? You would normally do that on Wednesday?

BB: You are talking about next Wednesday or next Wednesday?

Q: On a normal week you would give it to them on a Wednesday before the game?

BB: Right. We won't wait until a week from Wednesday. We will certainly get into some things this week. But I would say, probably not, we wouldn't be able to get into all of them.

Q: The Jets were 1-15 the year before you and Bill [Parcells] got there.

BB: Right.

Q: Since you have experienced that, can you appreciate even more what John Fox has done down in Carolina?

BB: Absolutely. I think it was 15 in a row [that they lost]?

Q: Yes.

BB: So, obviously John is a fabulous coach. They have done a fabulous job. Scott O'Brien the special teams coach worked with me for five years in Cleveland. I think he is one of the top coaches in the game. Jerry Simmons is the strength coach, so I have a lot of friends and some connections down there from previous coaching experiences. I have all the respect in the world for that organization and Foxy [John Fox] is the gun down there and he has obviously built a tremendous team and a good program. Defensively, again, without doing a real thorough study on them, but defensively, I think they kind of remind me of a little bit of what he had in New York, a very strong defensive unit that is physical and it is hard to move the ball against them and score against them.

Q: Have you and John crossed paths at all?

BB: Well, John was at the Giants when I was with the Jets. I think we have had a good friendship through the years even though we haven't worked directly together.

Q: How much does having been to the Super Bowl two years ago affect your team in the off field expectations and demands? How did it affect you the second time around when you were a coordinator? Do these guys know what they are in for?

BB: I think the ones that have been there do, they have some idea that there is going to be a lot of people trying to catch up to us that haven't been covering us on a regular basis like you have and there will be some pretty obscure questions and angles that will result from that. Overall, again, I think the main thing for us is to deal with whatever we have to deal with. It will be basically the same for both teams – to keep our eye on the target and understand what we are there for and what we need to do to achieve our goal. There will be some of those things around and we will have to deal with them.

Q: Do you see it as a distraction or a necessary evil or…

BB: Well, let's put it this way, I would say it is a high-class problem.

Q: Speaking of obscure angles, I know you never like to lose, but do you think what happened to your team in week one was actually a good thing?

BB: Good? No. No. No.

Q: [Laughter] Do you think it helped to get the team's head straight?

BB: Well, I think that we knew from week one to week two that we needed to play better than we played in week one and frankly in week three we felt like we needed to play better than we played in week two and so forth right down the line. No, I wouldn't say that it was good.

Q: Are you familiar with any of the Panthers personnel players like [Jake] Delhomme or [Julius] Peppers?

BB: Well, Jermaine Wiggins was here for one. We scouted a lot of those guys that have come out through the draft in recent years. Guys like [Kris] Jenkins and [Steve] Smith and guys like that, [Ricky] Manning, all of those kids that have come out recently, we were scouting them like we scouted the guys we drafted or guys other teams drafted, some of their veteran players we have had experience playing against. Guys like [Stephen] Davis. Delhomme is a kid that we, at the Jets, were really close to signing him and he ended up signing with New Orleans. We know him. We don't know him like we know a division team that you play twice a year. You know what shoe size those guys wear. This is a team that we are going to have to do a better job familiarizing ourselves with.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the many uses of Mike Vrabel yesterday in particular the play where he lined up at nose tackle?

BB: Mike, as I have said many times before, is one of our smartest and most versatile players. We ask him to do a lot of different things. He plays tight end on offense. He plays on the special teams unit, kickoff return, punt team, cover kickoffs for us and does a multitude of jobs defensively whether he is a lineman in our sub situations or a linebacker in coverage situations, and moves around at different spots on the line, he is a real instinctive guy and a very flexible person. Mike is one of those guys that [if you say to him], 'Can you do this? Can you do that?' and nothing seems to bother him. Not everybody is like that. He is very, mentally and physically, flexible because he has a good variety of skills. His athleticism, his size, his power, so he can math up against a lot of different types of people and he is a great weapon to have on defense.

Q: The pressure you were able to get up front yesterday, was that anything scheme-wise or was that Jarvis [Green] just winning the one on one match up?

BB: I think it is a combination of the coverage and the rush. Without the coverage, the rush won't make any difference. It will never get there. With good coverage, that gives the rush a chance. With good rush, obviously the coverage doesn't have to hold up quite as long. I think it was a combination of both. Jarvis did a good job. We had good pressure up front from a number of guys. [Peyton] Manning is a quick release quarterback but I think a good part of that pressure came from the coverage that the secondary was able to put on the receivers and not allow the ball to come out as quickly as sometimes it does.

Q: Conversely, that was the second straight game where there were no sacks on Tom Brady.

BB: Yes, I thought our offensive line did a nice job. They opened some big holes in the running game and they did a good job in protection. The Colts ran a lot of zone blitzes like they always do. I thought that the communication and the pick up by our offensive line was solid. I am not saying it was unbelievable, but it was solid. You are right, we kept the rush off Brady for the most part. They did a nice job. They really did. They did a nice job.

Q: Can you talk about the continuity on the offensive line despite the injuries during the year?

BB: I think that Dante [Scarnecchia] has done a terrific job with that group all the way through. There were times yesterday when Brandon [Gorin] was in there at right tackle and, of course, Russ [Hochstein] was in there at guard. It has had a number of different faces in it. It has maintained the continuity. I think that is a good word. Obviously Dante has done an outstanding job with each of those players individually but then collectively having the unit mesh together. He is one of the best coaches that I have ever worked with.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about going against Dan Henning that you knew from the Jets?

BB: Yeah, the Jets, all the way back to the Redskins, he was at the Redskins when I was with the Giants. Dan is a very fundamentally sound offensive coach. I think he does a real good job of limiting the mistakes that the offense can make because of the way he teaches the passing game and what they do in the running game. At the same time, he has a very creative system and it is not simple. It is not predictable. But at the same time, it is very fundamentally sound and there aren't a lot of chinks in the armor. It is a very sound system and it puts a lot of pressure on you. Dan is a creative guy within his system. They do a good job and he has had a lot of success coaching offense in this league.

Q: What are your initial impressions on Delhomme?

BB: I really haven't seen a lot of him but I would say the big thing is he is a winner. He is making the plays that he needs to make for Carolina to win. That is what a quarterback's job is. It is not all about stats. It is about wins.

Q: How close did you guys come to courting Stephen Davis during the past few years?

BB: Like all players that are free agents or get released, however it works, we have varying degrees of contact with, not necessarily that player initially, but with the agent and in the system and all, so I would say probably about normal. You always try to feel out the situation and sometimes that goes deeper and sometimes it does not. Sometimes players have a good opportunity available—and I'm not saying this is the case, I am just using it as an example—a lot of times the agents want to cut to the chase too, and not waste a lot of time. 'Okay, this player has two or three options over here. This looks like this will be what we are talking about. Are you guys interested in that?' 'Well, no. We were maybe thinking of something a little bit different. Maybe if things don't work out we will talk later.' That happens a lot. There is always a degree of contact and how far that goes depends on the situation. It just depends on how close the situations are to coming together.

Q: Would it be wrong to characterize any relations with Stephen as falling along those lines?

BB: No, I am not trying to characterize it at all. I am just saying that we have contact with players that are available.

Q: How close did you talk with him?

BB: I couldn't even tell you specifically because that is what the personnel department does. I have another job to do.

Q: You made a decision to go for it on fourth and one yesterday in the opening drive. As a coach, how tough a call is that to make and what kind of message does that send to your team?

BB: I think the message was in that situation we thought we could do it. Again that is the type of play where we are really putting the ball into Brady's hands and I am asking him to make the decision. You can't tell from the sidelines or predict with one hundred percent certainty. You might have an idea, but you can't predict with one hundred percent certainty what a team is going to do in that situation defensively, whether they are going to jam up in the inside gaps or play head up or there are a lot of different ways they can handle it. Even if there is a way that they normally play it then maybe they play the short yardage situations a bit differently. Again it is just putting the ball in his hands and having him decide what he thinks is the best way to attack it. We had a couple of different options on the play and I think he made the right decision and chose the one he thought was best and was able to convert it, so that was basically the nature of it. I don't want to get into everything, the whole strategy of the play, but again just suffice it to say that the intent of the play was, 'Tom, you are going to have the ball on this. You decide what the best thing to do with it is.' If it looks just terrible at every option, maybe we will end up taking it away and just punting it.

Q: Going back to the 1-15 turnaround with the Jets, talent aside how tough is it to change that losing culture and turn it around?

BB: I think for the Jets it was the whole thing. It wasn't a question of talent. There were a lot of good players there and a lot of young players there. A lot of them have gone on to receive significant recognition. I think it was more a question of trying to, as you say, change the attitude, change the outlook and get the players to play the way you want them to play. In the end, when you walk into that situation, even though we had played the team a couple of times because we were in the same division, it doesn't really matter what they did the year before or how they did it, you are coming in with your program and you want them to buy into it and do what you want them to do so you can at least correct it and make the adjustments you need to make to move forward and I thought that the players in that particular year were very receptive to that and they worked hard at it.

Q: Do you recall the circumstances and what year that was with Delhomme coming out of Europe?

BB: I think it was '97. I want to say it was '97.

Q: He was in Europe?

BB: Yeah he was unemployed. He wasn't with anybody. It was during the season. It was, I don't know, November, December or whatever it was.

Q: He actually came in for a tryout, didn't he?

BB: At least one. Might have been two. It was close.

Q: I don't know if you are in the mood for ranking.

BB: Probably not.

Q: Carolina has an excellent defensive line. Where do they stack up? Is that one of the better lines you have seen in your years?

BB: Yeah. They are pretty good. They are athletic, they are big, and they are powerful. Like a lot of good teams, they do it in a lot of different ways—pass rush, run defense, blocked kicks, you name it. It is a good front. They have good linebackers. [Dan] Morgan is backing up that group. They have a lot of good players. I am sure that they will be a challenge for anybody to play. They have a great offensive line.

Q: [Julius] Peppers was really hot. Did you look at him that year?

BB: Yeah, but we were picking 32nd that year, so the chances of him being there when we were picking were [small]. And there were a number of players that year—[Ryan] Sims was there that year if I am not mistaken, he came out that year and he went to Kansas City. I think they had somebody else too. Yeah, we saw him. He is a tremendous athlete. He can do pretty much anything you want him to do coming off the edge. He can run fast, jump over guys, but he is a big guy and has a lot of power. He plays the run well. He is strong at the point. He can get up field and beat the guys around the corner. He can come inside and power them. He is a terrific player.

Q: Could you assess the play of Russ Hochstein yesterday?

BB: It was okay. Some plays were better than others, but overall he and the unit held up okay. Again, a lot of those situations are two on two or three on three. It is all combination work, but I would say for the most part he did a solid job and held up in there.

Q: Did you see any similarities this year in Carolina to what your team did in 2001?

BB: I don't know. They won a lot of games and they are in the Super Bowl, so I guess you could start there. That is pretty good. Again, to be perfectly honest with you, I haven't spent a lot of time studying Carolina. All my time has been spent on Indianapolis. We knew that if we were fortunate enough to win that game, we had a two-week window between Indianapolis and the next opponent, and whomever that is going to be then we are going to jump in with both feet and start digging as of today. We have spent the majority of the morning talking about the planning of the two weeks coming up and when we get done here, then I will jump in there and start preparing as hard as I can for Carolina, but in all honesty I am just not at that point yet.

Q: Can you talk about being a fairly prohibitive favorite in this game?

BB: Yeah we don't care about favorites, underdogs, all that. That doesn't mean anything. Nobody is going to put those points up on the board. You have to go out there and earn it. It doesn't make any difference who is the favorite, who is the underdog, it is a toss up. That stuff doesn't mean anything. It is how you play and how the other team plays and how you match up against them. Until somebody puts those points up there, then they don't mean anything.

Q: Is [Tedy] Bruschi going to be okay?

BB: We will have to take a look and evaluate that. He didn't finish the game. We will see how he is and we will update you on that as soon as we know something.

Q: How much do you enjoy the challenge of preparing for a team like the Colts? Are the schemes ever exactly the same or do they change each week?

BB: There is always something different and there is a different challenge every week. I enjoy the challenges each week. Every team you play has plenty of weapons, plenty of athletes, good coaches and systems that challenge you in one way or another. There is always a challenge there. Certainly the Colts are one of the top ones. I look at them all really pretty much the same—what is the best we can do against what they have and try to put yourself in the position where the players have the competitive chance to play to their strengths.

Q: It looked like one of those wrinkles yesterday was with Rodney Harrison jamming the receivers, and the corner was kind of back in the safety spot. What was the thinking behind that?

BB: We changed up some looks a little bit and played guys in different positions. We just tried to configure not only our front but our secondary in some ways to try to put maybe a little bit of indecision or make it a little bit harder to recognize exactly what it was we were doing. Again, I don't think any of that would have been possible without the level of experience we have defensively on our team. Not just Rodney Harrison. Not just Ty Law, but collectively the whole group—[Ted] Washington, [Bobby] Hamilton, [Tedy] Bruschi, [Richard] Seymour, Ted Johnson, [Roman] Phifer, [Willie] McGinest, [Mike] Vrabel, you just go right down the line. They are all guys who we feel comfortable and confident with that they can handle multiple things and still perform them. Again, I just don't think it would have been possible without the level of experience that those guys bring into the field.

Q: When you played in Houston earlier on, what were your impressions of the facility? Does the fact that you have played down there help? Is it helpful that you will be familiar with the surroundings?

BB: I think the fact that we have been there gives you a little bit of a familiarity with it. This is obviously a totally different situation. When you are going into the Texans house and you are the enemy—we will be the enemy for half the stadium this week, but I think at least you have some familiarity with things, like where the forty-second clock is. We have been on the field. We have some experience with that. I don't think it is a huge thing because we will practice there and we will get to be there. And certainly the Super Bowl scene is a lot different from any other scene anywhere, so there is always a little bit of a new twist there. I don't think it hurts to have been on it, but I don't really think it is that big of a deal.

Q: Last week we were talking about Eugene Wilson and Asante Samuel. What is your analysis of Wilson? How did he play yesterday?

BB: Not bad. I thought Eugene had a solid game. He did have a couple of good hits and, as I said last week too, these rookies, when they have had the chance to play a game against a quarterback, which has happened now five or six times this year, and then a few weeks later come back and play him again, they can't help but have a better feel and have a better understanding of what they have to do in that situation. Now they still have to do it and that doesn't mean that the next game is going to be a great game. I am not saying that, but there is an experience level that they can gain there that, even though you have talked to them about it and even though you have shown them film of other games, actually going up and seeing it and knowing how a team can attack you and attack you successfully I think really gives them an appreciation you really only get from experiencing it. That is something that all our rookies are learning, whether it is [Dan] Koppen on the line or Samuel.

Q: When did you become good at breaking down film? I know you did it with your father. When did you actually realize that you were good at it?

BB: At breaking them down?

Q: As a coach.

BB: Well I think breaking them down and coaching [are] two different things. I felt confident breaking down film when I was a teenager. Based on what he asked me to do I could do it. When I first started doing it he would look at it and there were a lot of mistakes and he would say, 'do it this way' or 'do it that way,' but then there became a point where it wasn't that way. He would look at it and maybe not find anything or just a couple of things wrong with it.

Q: Early on, at what point in that progression did you realize you were going to be good at it?

BB: I would say my confidence really came that first year. The first year at Baltimore was a tremendous experience for me, one that I didn't deserve but I was just fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. I was getting paid nothing because I wasn't worth anything, but they had a small staff because [Ted] Marchibroda didn't have enough people really to do all the things he wanted done. Even though I was the low man on the totem pole—by a lot—there were still things that he needed done, so he would say, 'Billy, take care of this' or 'take care of that.' As one thing was done or another thing was done, it would lead him to other things. I think he maybe saw a little bit of a progression there where he felt confident giving me other responsibilities, things like running the scout team on offense for the defensive team or running the special teams kick team for our special teams unit. Things like that. Once all that evolved, and again it was kind of thrown on me, it wasn't like when I originally talked to him he said, 'Well this is what you are going to be doing,' but we didn't really know where it was going. Once it started going that way and I felt confident with it and the coaches would help me out along the way—'here's how you can do this better, here is how you can do that better'—there was a point in the season, somewhere in the middle of the season, where things I thought were going pretty good and they thought it was going pretty good. At the end of the year there was interest in continuing on in that process, even though it didn't work out in Baltimore in '76. Ultimately it was in Detroit, but I would say in that first year there was a lot of positive feedback.

Q: You were getting paid literally nothing?

BB: 25 dollars a week, and that was before taxes. 21-something after taxes. As Joe Thomas said when he handed me the check, 'Don't spend it all in one place.' There was a lot of truth to that.

Q: Being the favorite going in the game, how do you prevent your team from going into this game overconfident?

BB: Well because we don't care about that. We don't care who the favorite is. We don't care who the underdog is. We just care about how we prepare and how we perform and that is all we can control.

Q: Have any of your kids sat by Grandpa's knee to break down film?

BB: [Laughter] We are trying to get them to break down some of dad's film before we get to Grandpa's.

Q: Have they come in here?

BB: Yeah, they are around.

Q: Doing the X's and O's?

BB: We have our own plays. We go out there and play touch football and stuff. We have our own plays and it is great when we do it against other kids that kind of don't know the plays.

Q: Are you any match for them at all in Madden?

BB: Oh no, I don't play Madden, but in touch football, we never lose. We never lose. [Laughter]

Q: Is it scheme or is it the players?

BB: It is a little bit of both. The best one is, when we signal our routes we have our three-route. You have the regular three—one is an out, two is a slant, three is a deep route, and four is a curl. So you signal out there a three, and the other kid he doesn't know, so we run the three and throw the out. And then the next time we come back and flash that three, which is the out and up. They see that three, they hit that out, and we are up. Works every time. [Laughter]

We are not playing for the Super Bowl out there. We are just having fun.

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